BTC caught up with one of our very experienced Energy Link coaches; Chris Thomas. I (Zoe) was fortunate enough to have Chris as my coach for my first Ironman in 2013 and there is no way I would have approached my first Ironman the same way without having Chris in my corner. The mental tips and tricks prior to race day were worth their weight in gold let alone the actual physical training plan.
We thought it would be great to hear from Chris about how she got started in the sport and her advice to other women involved or wanting to get involved in Triathlon.
Over to you Chris......
I became involved in the sport of triathlon as a competitor in the early 90’s and really enjoyed the competition. I have been coaching for over 18 years. During this time I have learnt a lot from my own mistakes but I have also learnt something from every athlete I have worked with.
I want to offer some tips and advice from my experiences as a coach but before I do I would like to say how encouraging it is to arrive at a BTC training session and see women of varied ability, sometimes inexperienced, petrified or nervous, ready to take on a new challenge. Well done to the many women who come along and give it a go … you know who you are and you are amazing!
Be brave and you will be rewarded: When I began in the sport there were nowhere near the amount of women doing triathlon as there are today. I trained with guys and I was left behind a lot but it ended up making made me stronger and I learnt a lot so I was happy! My advice is to train with those whose company you enjoy and who you can learn from and be brave about it!
Be effective: When I became serious about competing I dropped from full time to part time work so I could train more seriously but hated it because I would waste time sitting around stressing about the next tough session! It is often easier to train effectively when you have to be organised around work and or family commitments. When you find a routine that works for you, stick to it. Aim for consistency and make the sessions you do count and they will!
Join a group large or small: There was one all women’s event around at Sans Souci that was great fun! Sport has come a long way in terms of female participation. Triathlon Australia and various event managers and associations are doing a good job encouraging women to participate in triathlon, run, cycle and swim events.
Groups like triathlon pink, wild women on top and CanToo are also doing a great job supporting women at the all important grass roots level.
The girl guide motto: When I used to train, the group I rode with didn’t like waiting for me to change a tire when I got a flat so they would do it for me. Then, one day I got stuck on my own a few hours from home with 2 flats and I was a while getting back on the road! Always be prepared and make sure you carry your own equipment when riding and know how to use it!
Hurdles vs Barriers: I really don’t believe that there are any barriers facing women wanting to get involved in triathlon other than the expense. There are always going to be hurdles for women such as time constraints, confidence, lack of skills and perceived stereotypes. As a coach, we try and help women overcome some of these hurdles and that is one of the best things about being a coach.
Enjoyment = balance: I am Mum to Megg (17 next week!) Carley (15) and Ben (11) My philosophy on balancing family, sport and work is to prioritise and to keep the bigger picture in mind. For me, keeping fit and enjoying the training without racing is achievable and highly beneficial as I can fit it in around my family and work commitments.
My tips for the new triathletes:
- Try not to compare yourself to anyone else – you are unique! Set yourself small, realistic goals and enjoy working towards them.
- If at first you don’t find the right training group, training partner or coach then keep trying because there are many supportive, encouraging and knowledgeable people out there happy to help, especially at BTC!
- We were all beginners at some stage and there is much to learn and many people with opinions however, you need to sift through the plethora of information out there and keep things simple.
- You only need your swimmers, goggles, a bike, some good running shoes and a can do attitude to start training, build confidence and do your first race.
I won’t be racing Club Champs this year and will miss being out on the course as part of a team but I will be cheering with my loud voice for the BTC athletes from the sideline as a volunteer. So I will see you all up there.
You can find out more about Chris and Energy Link coaching at their website