All my friends and family will tell you that I have always been a big lover of sport, fitness and food. A lot of times to their annoyance because even on holidays I will want to stay active and I find it hard to sit around too long. Or at university I would never go for a kebab or pizza after a night out. I would be that person rummaging around in my granola or muesli cupboard…! Initially, I admit, because despite all the booze I wanted to pick the “healthier” option. Now, however, granola is my absolute comfort food and obsession!
At school I started in swimming, netball, lacrosse and athletics. I made the county teams for netball and lacrosse - Wiltshire and Dorset. At university I continued with lacrosse until my third year. I would have continued further but studying to be a Vet had a lot of restrictions, especially in the later years! I still managed to go for a good long run along the canal at the weekends when I could, even hungover. Also the legendary super circuits as often as I could at the Uni gym in the Stevenson (Stevie!) building (shout out to Glasgow Uni and GUSA!).
Super circuits is what sparked my love of the slightly more extreme variety of exercise and the endorphin rush and feeling of achievement when completing a very hard exercise for a silly length of time! I competed in the Super Teams events twice where teams of 6 competed in events such as rowing and running as far and as fast as you could for 2 minutes, as many press-ups or sit ups as you could in 1 minute and so on. I took the part as the “superwoman” one year where it’s your job to take part in every single event alongside a fellow team member who would take turns. There would also be a “superman” that would do the same.
So there you have it, that is why, especially my uni friends, will tell you I was a little bit “cray cray” with the lengths I would go to when it came to working out. Also why they would not be surprised that I fell into the sport of triathlon.
I would go as far to say that triathlon is one of the best all encompassing sports ever created. Not only is it 3 sports in one (lots will argue it is 4 or even 5 when you include the art of transitioning between them as well as the nutrition knowledge you need) but the dedication required for training, the camaraderie and support between fellow triathletes and the extreme lengths people will go to, even when injured, to achieve their goal of qualifying for a certain race (famously Kona for the Ironman World Championships) or just completing one is unfathomable.
Just in my own triathlon club, Ful-on Tri, there are so many incredibly inspiring stories. Be it sickness, injuries or family losses that would break most people or just having such crazy work hours and a young family that you couldn’t imagine they would have the time to even sleep let alone train for an Ironman. Not only the individuals having that kind of strength and dedication to keep going, but the unwavering support from fellow club members, even fellow triathletes who are otherwise strangers, is astounding.
The professionals in the sport are, of course, also a huge source of inspiration. Lots of them now have youtube channels where you can witness first-hand what great lengths they go to to be the best they can be.
The variety of the 3 sports makes training for it that much more fun. Indeed, we are at high risk of over-training ourselves but we often learn the hard way and come back a better athlete as a result! There has been a triathlon boom over the last few years and now you can race in amazing locations all over the world. There is an ongoing joke between me and my boyfriend that all our holidays are dictated by triathlon races. The distinction is now blurring between “it’s not a holiday without a race" or “it’s not a proper holiday IF there’s a race..!”
Triathlon has opened up a whole community of wonderfully exceptional people and has enabled me to be the fittest I have ever been. I have learnt more about my body and mental strength than I ever thought I could. I hope to be a part of this community for the rest of my life and if anyone is sitting on the fence and wondering whether to give triathlon a go. Do it. You won’t regret it. Just be prepared to get sucked in and maybe be a bit poorer but definitely amazed and it will be an experience you won’t forget!