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October 15, 2014

Natalie, please introduce yourself and tell our readers about how you came to be a triathlete 

Hello, I'm Natalie and am really pleased and excited to beTriathlete for long, in fact I took up training for sport when I was 14! (I will try and keep this short). When I was 14 I didn't know about competing in sport, I just enjoyed PE at school and had swimming lessons when I was young so when I saw a swimming club advert in a supermarket I jumped at the opportunity and that's where it all started. I wasn't the best and had to join the 7 year olds in the small pool to learn technique and drills perhaps a vital part of my swimming ability now.

I loved swimming and always tried hard to improve and after moving to the South my new friends did Biathlons which involved swimming and running with a rest between and was part of the Modern Pentathlon association, I thought it would be fun and I gave it a go when I was 18. With no run training ever I thought I would be fit enough from swimming and it would be great but I soon found out this is not the case, I was awful and ran like an elephant! It was hard and I hated it but afterwards I loved it and later did some run training and improved also adding pistol shooting in to compete in the modern Triathlon (swim, shoot, run separately). I also started racing in Biathle a continuos run/swim/run event again part of the Modern Pentathlon Association and I competed on an International level winning many medals at World Tour events, European Gold and a World Silver and Bronze.

I decided I wanted to give the full Modern Pentathlon a go so took up fencing and horse riding to compete on a National level but in 2012 I had a fantastic offer of support and coaching in Triathlon and after doing a local event I decided to take up the offer and haven't looked back since! It was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. Oh and I have to add I love running now, you just have to work at some things and it will improve.

Do you have a favourite discipline out of Swimming, Cycling and Running?

This is actually quite a tough one, I like them all but go through phases of which is my favourite. It depends on how it is feeling, so it's generally the sport I am nailing my technique and feeling really good in. Each one has times I feel great and times when it gets tough.

What does a typical days training look like for you? Where do you train?

I do the majority of my training in my local area and go to the athletics club once a week and join the cycling club on some rides. I swim on my own in the public sessions at the local pool and in the summer try and get some open water swims in too but that's over an hour car journey away!
My training varies quite a bit from day to day and week to week which also keeps it interesting and fun but in a typical day I will do 2-3 sessions depending on what they are, I often do a run & swim on the same day or a bike & swim and perhaps a strength or core session.

Can you tell us about your nutrition? You’re big into cooking good food yourself - does this fit in well with training?

I don't have a particular diet that I follow but I generally eat lots of fruit and veg along with meat, fish, porridge, cereal, bread, pasta. I also eat some bad stuff too such as cakes, chocolate and biscuits but all in moderation and I believe that it doesn't hurt to have bad things as long as it's not excessive. During heavy training I try to eat a lot of foods high in protein to aid recovery and am particularly fond of quark, I also like to have snacks such as the Chia Charge Flapjacks and also take them out on the bike.

I love cooking and think this does fit in well with my training to provide a healthy and balanced diet, I also love to be inventive and use lots of random ingredients and this usually works out well.

Sometimes I feel too tired or don't have much time to cook and on these days my mum will prepare something, she also enjoys cooking I guess that's where I get it from.

You recently wrote a blog post on the expense of Triathlons in terms of entering comps, equipment ETC, any advice for those starting out?

I would suggest for the first Triathlon try and borrow any equipment you can to see if you like it before spending out lots on new equipment. I'm sure you will love it though, the atmosphere and experience of racing are so much fun. I did my first triathlon on a mountain bike and loved it! Enter a competition locally as these tend to be cheaper and look in to local clubs as they are always really friendly and offer lots of tips and advice.

What do you see as your biggest achievement to date as an athlete?

I think this has to be racing the British Super Series as an Elite this year, I was positioned in the bottom half of the field but finished the series in 18th overall and in my second season feel that it was an amazing experience racing against the top athletes in the Country and can build on my experience for future years. Funny I should choose this as my biggest achievement, it just goes to show that winning medals is not everything, achieving your goals, improving and moving up to the next level can be just as big!

What’s in store over the next year for you as an athlete?

Next year I plan to race the British super series again and improve on my performances from this year, I am also hoping to get a start at a European cup race as an elite. I have also qualified for the European age group Standard Triathlon Championships in Geneva and due to my performance in Canada this year I have prequalified for the Worlds next year in Chicago. I hope to do both but it depends on funds! I would also like to do the European Aquathlon as I won my age group this year so if I get chance I will race it.

What’s the best and worst part of being a triathlete?

The best part of being a triathlete is that I love being outside and training, I love the feeling and excitement of racing and you get to meet so many great and like minded people. Also long bike rides mean you can have that extra slice of cake!

The worst part is when you go through a tough patch in training and everything feels so hard and like all the technique has gone, but it doesn't last long and you soon forget about these tough times.

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A huge thanks to the Chia Charged Natalie for taking the time to answer our questions. You can follow her on Twitter @natalie_thomas_ or on her blog natttri.wordpress.com.

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