Can you tell the readers of North of Here a bit about yourself and your lifestyle?
I am 21 years old and I live in Melbourne. As well as studying my final year of a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Visual Arts), I’m the swim coach for a couple of triathlon clubs and a professional triathlete. At a young age, I was a national medalist in swimming and trained and raced at an elite level for eight years. My love and usual drive for swimming became challenging and I wasn’t improving for a couple of years, so I knew I needed a change. I always wanted to keep swimming in my life, but I wanted a bigger challenge and thought… why not take on two more sports!?
What does a day in your life look like?
My days change, but I usually coach swimming in the morning, do two training sessions, uni and then coaching at night as well. I have a balanced lifestyle…whenever I tell people what I do, they jump to the conclusion that I don’t have a life and look at it as a negative – but I make time for everything else and I absolutely love what I do. I am so fortunate to have a supporting family, great friends and training partners, an ambitious coach and all the facilities I need in the local area to aid in my development as an athlete.
What keeps you motivated?
My goals motivate me, whether they are short term (for example, hitting a certain pace in a track set) or long term, all of my sessions that lead to a specific goal are important and will aid in achieving that target. I am also motivated by thinking about my professional career as a whole; I want to continually move my way up into the higher rankings in long distance triathlon (half ironman/70.3 and full ironman) and to enjoy the experience of racing against some of the world’s best. I believe I can achieve great things and I know I’ve got the attitude of a world class athlete. And my swim coaching keeps me motivated by watching everyone grow and improve and feel more comfortable in the water.
What is it about triathlon that you love so much and what keeps you going back for more?
I love the variety and how I’m always doing a different session everyday. I what I love most about triathlon is racing… when you’ve got a couple kilometres left of the run and you can hear the crowd, you are constantly looking at your pace and if anyone from your category is around, you are thinking about the extreme pain you are enduring, though always trying to hold decent technique. The crowd get louder and louder when you hit the home stretch, whether that is a red carpet or you are surrounded by banners, you know the pain is about to end and you have accomplished something great. Even if I’ve had a bad race, I always take the positives out of it. I think if you ask any triathlete, they would agree that racing is addictive and what brings them back each time.
What does your training routine look like?
I aim to complete around 16-18 hours of training in my intense weeks and around 10-12 hours in my recovery weeks. My weekly training routine changes but it usually looks like:
Monday: ride and swim
Tuesday: long run and gym circuit
Wednesday: ride and swim
Thursday: track run set and recovery ride
Saturday: long ride (3+ hours)
Sunday: long run or double run every fortnight
I also add in yoga a couple times a week and recovery sessions each week.
Your sessions can be pretty intense, what do you do to wind down?
I enjoy having salt baths for recovery, stretching, using the new facility P3 Sports and Recovery based in Berwick, listening to music, watching movies and TV series and doing any type of art (drawing and painting, etc).
You’ve had some setbacks in your triathlon career – what have they been and how have you dealt with them?
I was hit by a car while riding a couple years ago and had a patella compression fracture (a crushed knee cap), a bursa haemorrhage, and stitches and was in a splint for a few months. The driver said he didn’t see me (even though I had bright coloured clothing on and about three lights on!). I was extremely lucky I didn’t hit my head and didn’t need surgery on my knee; it just took time to heal. It was really frustrating as the accident happened a few days before I was meant to race in Noosa and compete against some of the world’s best elites for the first time. The next race season was looking bright as I had just come back from an ITB and foot injury where I had done limited training and racing, though had a quick recovery and I had raced well in the first race of the season in Yarrawonga and then this accident happened the week of Noosa.
I probably surprised myself with how mentally strong I was. Our family were going through some difficult things when this happened and for the first time I felt useless and couldn’t do anything. I always like to be doing something and getting up and walking around, so this was the most testing thing. I learnt to be grateful. Some of us are lucky enough to be able to walk and run around pain free, sit down, get up, go to the toilet, walk to the pantry, walk up and down stairs, take a shower, etc and due to this injury, the ease of everyday tasks became very challenging. The discipline and determination I developed through my years of swimming and the support of my family and friends definitely helped me overcome this.
I have also learnt to be in control of my actions and how I react to certain challenges in life. I always try and think someone else out there is experiencing something similar or something worse and I need to thankful.
Can you tell us about some of the challenges you face when it comes to looking after yourself?
I love my sweets! I tend to justify having more sweets when I’m doing A LOT of training; I think “oh well… I can have a piece of cake because I’m doing a 100km ride tomorrow!”. I am starting to realise that to achieve my ultimate potential, I shouldn’t have a chocolate or a slither of cake every day or every second day, but only once a week.
If I am on a good path with work, uni and training and then get sick, it is easy to feel as though all of the ‘gains’ I’ve accomplished have weakened. This is not the case and I should stop stressing about it; it’s not the end of the world, all of the base training I have done will still be there.
As women, we often neglect a part of our own health/wellbeing – what is one thing that you’ve been neglecting, and would like to get on top of?
I find I try to please too many people rather than focusing on myself and what suits me. For my own wellbeing and to maintain a positive mind, sometimes I need to be more selfish. Triathlon is a selfish sport and I am aware of not allowing it to ‘take over’ my everyday life. I have to be a little selfish when it comes to my training, recovery, nutrition, races, etc but I also I don’t bring all of this into the other parts of my life like when I’m with family and friends.
I’ve also started meditation to help deal with some difficult things over the past few years and it is helping me learn how control my thoughts rather than let them define me and take over. I now know I can only control myself, my thought process and my actions, but I can’t control what others say or how they act.
What is your favourite recipe at the moment?
I’ve got a couple favourite recipes at the moment. I have recipes for banana and walnut loaf, and banana and yoghurt muffins that I’ve been having for my afternoon snack (accompanied with a tea). I also love a simple steak with roasted sweet potato and vegetables.
What are your three top health tips for living a healthy lifestyle?
I believe it is important to have a balanced diet. So rather than cutting out all carbs and refined sugar, etc, have them in moderation as well as your proteins, vegetables and fruits. I’d also say to try different things because what’s the worst that’s going to happen? If it doesn’t work (you feel crappy or you haven’t hit your goal) then try something else. Rather than weighing yourself most days, which is what I used to do, and being caught up with the number in front of you, look at yourself in the mirror. Do you like what you see? Do you feel good? I think focusing on these two things is much more important than worrying about the number every single day, it’s too exhausting.
What does ‘wellness’ mean to you?
To me, wellness is feeling healthy in the mind and the body. To succeed and to experience the true benefits of exercise, competition and healthy eating, you need to have a healthy mind. There were so many times where I’d been the fittest I had ever been and accomplished great things in swimming, but I didn’t fully value and understand what I had achieved. I was caught up in all the training and routine and just went to the next thing, without stopping, breathing and appreciating what I had done.
What are five things in your workout bag?
I always have a towel, 2-3 drink bottles (electrolyte, water and recovery), my Garmin watch, running sunglasses and a spare pair of clothes/socks.
What is one thing you do for yourself, for your sanity/health/wellbeing that you do everyday without fail?
Some form of exercise, whatever is on my set program or if I’m feeling crappy I do a light spin on the bike. I always listen to music when I train, at uni and at home. I love all genres and if I’m feeling down or worn out it always makes me feel better.