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We caught up with our Community Ambassador, Rhianna Parkinson to find out about her journey to the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. Rhianna is an inspirational athlete who has gone from sitting on the couch doing little exercise to representing Great Britain at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in less than three years. So over to Rhianna…
I can’t quite believe it’s finally here! Today (24th August) I fly out to South Africa to compete in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. After taking a few months off over winter to do some of the sports I just like to have fun with, such as cross country running and Cyclo-Cross racing, I began building up my triathlon fitness again around March time. I competed in two half Ironman distance events this year which I treated as practice runs and a way to evaluate my fitness and how well my training has been. I was happy with my performances but I knew I needed more structure around my training rather than just making it up as I went along!
I researched reputable training plans and have been following a 16 week “competitive” level plan which uses time and heart rate zones as the measurables. I can safely say I’ve trained like I’ve never trained before, it has been both physically and mentally exhausting but I feel fitter, injury free and my running has greatly improved – the discipline that I wanted to focus on improving the most. I found it hard training all those hours on my own so I found creative ways to make my sessions work in with club sessions, for example my running club entered a 5km series of races every Thursday – my set for that day was a steady 30-60 minute run with a fast 20 minute burst at the end, so I made sure I got there an hour early and did my steady part of the set right before the 5km run – that worked really well and it made sure I could still be involved with my club mates. It was mentally tough always being the first one to turn up and running round an athletics track for an hour but you also need that mental training to get you round an Ironman anyway!
The training didn’t always go to plan, for example I entered an Olympic distance triathlon event as a fitness test towards the end of July and unfortunately the weather turned really cold and it poured down with rain. I completed one lap of the bike course, and after seeing 4 separate crashes, 2 of which came very close to myself in the dangerous weather, I decided to pull out to avert risk of injury or damage to my kit. I was completely gutted (and stacked up on carbohydrates from the day before!). I went home and had a think about how to turn the day into a positive one and decided to complete the distances of the race in the afternoon, once the worst of the weather had passed. I actually trained harder than if I’d have competed and I think those moments are always the defining ones in the journey. Attitude and the ability to get a result out of a negative situation is so key in sport.
The support I’ve received from friends, family and Sports Tours has been fantastic and I’ve really enjoyed improving my fitness and knowing that I’m giving it my best shot. Lots of people have asked where I’m hoping to finish at the World Champs, and whilst I’d love to go under the 5 hour mark for the first time, my main goal is just to be the best I can be. I think it’s important not to compare yourself to anybody else and just focus on your plan and your race. I think that speaks for itself when I fill my nutrition box with percy pigs and banana bread whilst many others will fuel on sports energy gels (unfortunately they upset my tummy too much), but hey, it works for me!
I would love for you to track me on the Ironman app on 1st September which can be downloaded on any smart phone – my race number will be 1517 and I will be starting at 7:42am UK time, thanks for reading, bye for now!
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