How did you first get into triathlon?
I have always been quite competitive and sporty and when I was younger I used to run for my local club and swim a lot – I went to the Nationals three years running. I came to Loughborough University to study fine art and started to miss swimming and thought, why not give triathlon a go, as Loughborough was the national centre for the sport. It started from there and then it kind of took over my life! I don’t do anything half-heartedly so when I joined the tri-club I thought that I either had to make a proper go of it or not do it at all, because it took up a lot of my time and I’m passionate about my art.
How did you progress in the sport?
My friend was in the world-class development squad and he knew I had some potential so introduced me to the coach. I needed to complete a 3k time trial in under 10 minutes to get into the squad, which I did. In 2006 I had my best year: I went to the under-23 World Championships and finished fourth and then came 10th at the Beijing test event, against the best in the world. I had only been doing the sport properly for just over a year.
Did you find triathlon easy?
I was just on a roll and improving with every race and I was thinking, this is amazing, I was obviously born to do this – and then bang, I got injured, and for the next four years I was struggling with injuries and problems.
What have been some of the injuries?
Stress fractures, knee-alignment issues, nerve problems and other issues. I found being injured incredibly difficult because I had come from such a high to such a low. After I recovered from an injury something else would come along and after being hit two or three times with different injuries, I didn’t deal with it very well. My coach was giving up on me a bit and I tried to concentrate on my art but it was difficult – it seems to be that if my training goes well, then my art goes well and vice versa. I became a bit depressed but, over time, I learned to view every setback as something to make myself stronger.
How did you come back from injury?
I knew things needed to change and I now have a brilliant coaching team of Jon Roberts, Chris Ball and Stephen Powell who are really turning things around for me. I was 98% given up, I was just hanging on, but my new coaches turned everything around. I use ViPR as part of my training sessions and it forms an integral part of my conditioning programme. I use it to enhance the effectiveness and variety of my warm-up and to prepare my body for the demands of three different sports.
What are your chances of being picked for the GB Olympic team?
If I go, it will be one of the biggest comebacks. Triathlete Helen Jenkins was in the same situation as I am in now; before the 2008 Olympics she had lost her funding and been injured, so I don’t think it is impossible. The Triathlon Federation have made it hard to qualify this year so it will probably come down to next year for people to get the points needed to qualify.
Do you have a favourite discipline of the three?
At the moment I’m best at biking, but that’s because I haven’t been injured doing that. I used to love running before I got injured and that’s what I want to get back to, because triathlon really does come down to the run unless a big breakaway has been made. I want to make sure that, at the end of this year, I love each discipline individually and all three are strong.
How confident are you feeling about your sporting future?
I think that I’m meant to do something in triathlon; I haven’t been given this cardiovascular system for nothing and I didn’t go to Loughborough for nothing – it wasn’t just a coincidence. Over the last few months I’ve been more inspired than ever before so it’s been a really good journey.
This feature was first printed in the October/November 2011 issue of Fitpro Network magazine.
Photography: Olivia Shaw
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Fitness Professionals Ltd or Virtual Magazine. Consult a qualified health or fitness professional before making changes to your diet or exercise.