17 Feb Athlete in Focus- Lindsy James, Part Two
In our second and final focus on Lindsy, we talk through the challenges of balancing her very busy schedule, how her training focuses have changed and
For most multisport athletes, trying to balance two or three sports is a challenge, then throw into the mix a full-time job and a young family and you have got a pretty full plate, then try to balance all this between two training athletes! Both Lindsy and her husband Owen are multisport athletes which means a very delicate balancing act to ensure they are still spending time together as a family. In reality, this means 5am turbos on the weekend for one whilst the other rides at a later time in the day.
‘Feeling like you are giving enough in all aspects of life has always been a challenge for me. I always put my family first but know I am a better person when I feel fit and well so it’s vital I can get my training in.‘
Within older categories of women’s sports, the challenges are not only balancing family life and work, there is a change in training priorities, for Lindsy, S&C has taken on a much more essential role. The importance of building a strong base to complement the training is key for preventing injuries but also prolonging her career in the sport.
‘I have never followed a structured S & C programme over a long period of time. I’m certainly seeing a gain in strength and power and a reduction in niggles and illness. I’m also conscious that muscle mass decreases with age and I want to be in the sport as long as possible so I need to do things differently to what I have been. It’s never too late to make a positive change.’
A common misconception with beginner triathletes is that they need to have the best equipment to compete, from very expensive aero bikes to carbon-plated run shoes, these items do not come cheap and can be perceived as a barrier to entry. When first working with Chris, Lindsy was concerned about her lack of equipment and how this would affect her in races.
‘I have only raced twice in duathlon and both times I was so nervous. I turned up feeling like I really stuck out. I wheeled my road bike with clip-on bars up to the racking area and saw these fine speed machines, TT helmets, everything made to be ultra-aerodynamic. I didn’t know how to manage myself on the bike I found myself catching men and women on the best equipment but thought I shouldn’t be overtaking them as they’ll come straight past. Then I just went for it and it was strange but I didn’t see them again. I’m sure more gains will come with better positioning and the right kit but I needed to feel comfortable and confident handing the bike first.’
The reassurance from Chris that training was far more important than kit was a big help for Lindsy, going into a race knowing you are in great shape has a much greater effect than relying solely on your equipment, it’s easy to forget this when beginning a sport but can end up being a big mental block.
Whilst a lot of athletes post their training to apps such as Strava, Lindsy found it too easy to start comparing herself to other athletes. This social/training atmosphere can quickly become toxic for an athlete and the fear of not doing enough can lead to panic training ahead of a race, for Lindsy, the best thing to do was hide her profile and remove the temptation.
‘We are all guilty of comparing ourselves and beating ourselves up. I know my biggest challenge is living up to my own expectations, to just focus on the programmes Chris sets, the data and feedback I receive and performance testing.’
Within the world of women’s master’s duathlon, the diversity of ability levels is huge, this means the level of competitiveness varies from race to race, depending on the qualification standard. You have athletes who have been competing all throughout their adult lives to those who have only picked up the sport in the last few months or years, Lindsy found it refreshing that there was more of a focus on the enjoyment of the sport rather than the goal of trying to beat everyone there.
‘I have always suffered great anxiety when racing but once the gun goes I settle down and focus on the task at hand. I try and focus on what I can control, my effort, my mind, my strategy the rest you can’t worry about. Everyone always says enjoy it! I actually find this funny as I don’t enjoy feeling anxious, my lungs burning, and not knowing how I’m managing to put one foot in front of the other especially on the last run. What I do love though is crossing the line knowing I’ve given it my all. Feeling that all of the dedication to training has been worth it. I love cheering other people on and seeing them achieve their goals it always makes me emotional.’
This year, Lindsy has already qualified for the European Duathlon AG Champs in Romania and will hear about World Champs next month, all this within her first year of the sport which is an incredible feat. We can’t wait to see what this year holds for Lindsy.