You’ve just got to Tri
Meet two women who found a shared love of triathlon
People often ask: how do you manage to train for 3 sports?
The answer is: I am not only training for 3 sports. I also have a life, family, work and other commitments.
Finding a balance which enables you to live the life you want, which in the case of the women in this blog includes training for triathlon, is not easy. Not being a pro athlete means you have to do whatever you can, whenever you can, in order to prepare for your race(s).
At Got To Tri, we deliver the pro athlete lifestyle for one week (or long weekend). Athletes come to us to train, worry and commitment free, on the beautiful island of Mallorca. For a week, they get to prioritise their sport and make leaps and bounds within their training from practicing technique in back-to-back sessions.
Taking up a new sport is not easy and booking on to a tri camp, with people you don’t know, is certainly not done lightly. That is why we wanted to share the stories of a couple of our athletes who we have had the pleasure of meeting & training with, and who have not only inspired each other but also the whole Got To Tri team.
Esther is 37 year old Mum, Founder and CEO of The OPERA Global Youth Foundation (OPERA) — a registered charity built, backed and funded by the recruitment industry to empower young people to find, gain and stay in work.
She’s left-handed, dyspraxic and hyper-mobile — which (in her words) basically means she has no co-ordination, struggles to balance and is injury prone; if you can imagine for a moment, the least likely person to embark on sport of any kind, you are close.
Having never been taught to swim, barely been on a bike since her teens and able to give us (at least) 100 things she’d rather do than run a marathon, Esther has taken on a huge challenge — she began training for IRONMAN Barcelona in October 2016, one year out.
There are so many challenges out there but Esther chose IRONMAN
Esther admits she had no idea what an IRONMAN was when she agreed to do it — or that she would need to find around 16hours a week to train in preparation.
Despite being utterly terrified, Esther is motivated by the opportunity to practice what she preaches to young people today, that with time, training, coaching and — bloody hard work — anything is possible.
When I’m tired, when I’ve got blisters on my feet and when I dream of waves crashing over me and drowning (this was an actual dream) — this is what keeps me going; when we hit our target, I know we will have directly supported 2,500 young people who deserve the chance to #thrive not just survive.
For every £500 raised, one young person will be supported by OPERA to find, gain and stay in work. Chapeau Esther!
You can support Esther’s goal here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/estheroc
Signing up before you start
Starting triathlon can seem really difficult. You need time, kit and it can be extremely daunting. Esther has been training for 7months now and in doing so, has met some amazing and inspiring people whilst falling in love with the sport.
I have actually found something I love doing — not the racing element but the training and the Got To Tri team are some of the best people I know.
To help with training, Esther joined Mendip Triathlon Club on STRAVA and booked a week’s training on one of our Got To Tri camps. Along with her IRONMAN teammate Tom, they chose the last week of our camps and came out to Mallorca for some warm weather training. At the end of the tri camp, Esther felt completing the IRONMAN was possible if she continued to put in the hours and follow her plan.
It is quite possibly the best thing I ever decided to — I cycled my first 100km (in trainers) up a mountain, first open water sea swim in a wetsuit — I would describe it as life changing actually.
Practice makes perfect or at least gets you a little closer
Imagine it is your first triathlon and you have to go first, in front of loads of other athletes (including the London Fire Brigade Relay Team if you’re Esther).
That is scary, really scary.
Esther had only learned to swim 6 months earlier, so the pressure of swimming in front of experienced athletes must have been really hard. Esther completed the Haywards Heath Standard Triathlon and went on to compete in the Stourhead Immortal; a great experience and opportunity to test a longer multi-sport race. Due to injury she only completed the swim and cycle, but she was pleased to be within the cut off times to do the run — a confidence boost for Barcelona and a smart decision to avoid injury.
Don’t limit yourself to triathlon
A misconception with triathlon is that multisport is the be-all and end-all. Actually, like with any sport, you should vary your training and racing. It can be really beneficial to get off-road, or tackle just a long swim — not only for your fitness but also for your mindset.
Esther is adopting this school of thought by setting herself some impressive individual discipline challenges amongst her triathlon race calendar including the Brighton Palace to Pier 2.5k open water swim and the Serpentine 3.21k open water lake swim. All in preparation for IRONMAN Barcelona — where we have no doubt, she will be great.
Claire Steels is a 30 year old personal trainer. She has been active all her life, competing on the track as a youngster and playing hockey throughout school and University. Claire continued to play hockey after Uni whilst also picking up running again, dipping in to local road and cross country races.
Not yet a fully fledged triathlete, Claire discovered duathlon in 2015. She was at a point in her life where she needed a challenge and a goal to focus on. When one of her friends qualified for their age-group in triathlon, Claire set her sights on qualifying as a duathlete.
Becoming an athlete
Taking on any new sport can be tough. Clare had never had any structure to her exercise before, she just went running when she fancied it and didn’t follow a training plan. She chose to come on a Got To Tri training camp to meet some like minded people and trade experiences. Athletes who train on their own, often find it hard to push themselves, coming on a training camp or training with a club can really help push you into your improvement zone.
Out in Mallorca, Claire discovered her love for cycling in the mountains. Pushing herself into the improvement zone as she climbed ahead of some of the pros on the fermenia
Since starting Duathlon, Claire has achieved her goal of qualifying as a GB age-grouper and recently finished 8th in the elite British Champs. Next she is heading to the World Championships in Canada this August.
Train Train Train, Rest?
It is quality over quantity when it comes to training. Often athletes think they need to increase their volume to improve their times, when actually recovery should be as important as your training sessions.
Claire takes a rest day on a Sunday and splits the rest of the week between running and cycling. She explained to us that she tends to do her speed-work earlier in the week and leave endurance stuff to the end. Everyone’s training plan should be individual, depending on how much time you have to train and what your goals are; either way, be sure to dedicate enough time to your rest and recovery!
Inspired by these awesome female athletes? Get involved by signing up for your local GoTri or pledging to increase your activity with Triathlon England. Anyone can do it, you just have to take the first step — and trust me, it won’t be your last.