They say you should never meet your heroes. In case they’re horrible, I guess.
Chrissie Wellington has been a complete inspiration to me for a long time now, way before I had even thought about triathlons and when marathons were something other, crazy people did. She’s the most incredible athlete and role model, and if you’ve not read her book, please do. Because it is brilliant. So when Emma was offering her ticket to go and see Chrissie speak, I had to say snap it up.
And Chrissie wasn’t horrible. She was absolutely everything I expect her to be – from the way she bounded in all smiles and happy hellos to her wise words about life, ambition and, of course, triathlon. She talked to a completely rapt audience for a good 40 minutes, in Camden’s Runners Need shop: she was funny, laid back and open as she talked about growing up and being an obsessive ‘academic’, how she was on the Birmingham University swimming team just for socials and how someone commenting that she should ‘do triathlon’ changed her life. I have similar academic interests to Chrissie (see, we are ever so alike!), and so I was really interested to hear about her life pre-triathlon as well. I loved how much enthusiasm and happiness she had about her past life working in international development: it was clear she didn’t regret this time not being a world class triathlete.
She really was incredibly inspiring, and kept referring back to the idea of finding the passion inside you, the passion that drives you. It was something I kinda needed to hear. I’m currently at a bit of a crossroads in my life – my year long graduate trainee contract is coming to an end in four weeks, and I’m struggling somewhat with what to do next… I’ve still not really figured out exactly what does drive me. I know I need to be challenged, and ‘safety’ bores me. I need something that involves working with people, that means I get to be a change; that I get to create new ideas. I need something where I am allowed to laugh and be myself.
She then talked about triathlon, and her “magic bullets” for triathlon. Or some of them, anyway.
The top tips I took away were:
- Learn to be able to feel your race pace. You should be able to be bang on with race pace.
- Work on a cycle of 7 – 10 days on, 1 day off.
- During these 7 – 10 days of training, try and incorporate four types of essential sessions: steady, strength (hill training for the bike and run; toys for the swim), race pace, intervals.
- You can’t smash yourself every session. But you should smash yourself every race.
- We are triathletes, not swimmer, cyclists or runners. Everything you do in each sport effects how you perform in the other two. If your run sucks, don’t necessarily blame being a rubbish runner – you maybe messing it all up on the bike.
Chrissie made sure she left plenty of time to meet all us #fangirls (and boys!) at the end, and she was lovely to everyone – of course. I wasn’t surprised at how genuine she was and how friendly and smiley she was IRL. She’s exactly as you imagine.
– Thank you, Laura, for taking some mid-convo shots, to prove I didn’t pass out in excitement at meeting her… not sure what my face is doing though.
I felt like I took away an awful lot from just 40 minutes in a small running shop in Camden.
Do what you love: even if actually getting to do it is really scary.
Don’t be afraid to follow your passions
Stop caring what people think: who cares what others say if what you’re doing makes you the happiest you can be
Be the change: no one is going to hand you what you want on a plate, you’ve got to make the change yourself. No one is going to make what you want so much happen for you.
You can’t smash yourself every training session: but sometimes you do have to, so that you know how it feels, and so that when you have to do it in a race you know you’re not going to die.
Be positive: be positive in training to make it easier to cope with: break sessions down into manageable chunks, like a marathon is four lots of 10K plus a bit of change. Dedicate the tough times to those you love, and never forget why you started.
Thank you, Emma, for giving me the chance to meet my hero and Chrissie – you’re ace.