British endurance athlete on racing at the Olympics, winning the world 50km title and her advice for budding marathon runners
What it was it like to represent Great Britain at the Olympics in the heat and humidity of Brazil in 2016?
It was honestly a dream come true. Just to be at the Olympics was amazing and it was something I had dreamt of for 25 years. It was something I never actually thought would happen. There’s only a very small number that actually make it.
The emotions of crossing the line at the London Marathon which saw me qualify were overwhelming. There was relief, disbelief but also sadness because I lost a few relatives in the run-up, so they never saw me represent Great Britain at the Olympics.
However, my mum and dad were out in Brazil and they were cheering me on. Everyone who was out in Brazil said it was boiling hot but I was just focused on my performance and I had trained a lot for the heat so I didn’t feel the effects too much.
I’d been in Font Romeu doing some warm weather training, running in all your sweats in 28 degrees while we had ice packs and bands for the warm-ups.
During the race it was about taking on as much fluid as possible and pouring water over your head. It was also about adjusting your pace to deal with the climate. It was a war zone from as early on as 5/10km. I ended up finishing 27th and it was a fantastic experience all round.
How do you manage to fit in training for three disciplines in triathlon and what is your strongest and weakest?
I think my strongest is pretty self-explanatory! I remember doing a short-form triathlon and when I did the 2.5km run bit of the race I flew through and ended up finishing first in my age category. The weakest is definitely my swimming. I used to swim a lot when I was at school but that was about 20 years ago and it’s been a while since I’ve done it properly, so going into the pool for the first time again was pretty daunting.
I joined the local triathlon club and I was actually in the developmental lane until a few weeks before my triathlon. Even on the day I was a bit worried about swimming 300m non-stop but, being a competitor, it was a case of as soon as the gun went I had to keep on going. I targeted my swim for six minutes and I clocked 5:57. I’m still not the best at cycling but I also held my own and the running was natural – I can still produce 5:30 minute miles.
Fitting training in? It is a lot more time consuming but I work next to an…