sarah andrews - triathlete

I like a challenge and to keep fit so had a number of marathon and half-marathon finishes behind me but, as anyone who likes to constantly push themselves knows, completion of one goal means finding another, harder target to aim for. I could have tried for faster times but, as fate would have it, an e-mail advertising the “City to Summit” Iron distance triathlon popped into my inbox whilst I was perusing my options. It had the option to do the event over 2 days which seemed like a perfect introduction to long distance triathlon. The fact that it was described as one of the hardest iron distance triathlons in the world and probably not the best introduction for a novice, who had never even done a sprint triathlon, didn’t really dawn on me. It was only when I started trying to train for it that I realised how un-prepared I was. I had been a good swimmer as a kid but hadn’t swum for 20 years, didn’t own a road bike and running training had been sporadic for a number of years.

I trained myself for 7 months but was way short of where I needed to be to complete the event at all - let alone without doing myself serious, long term injury! It was at this point that I decided I needed some help to get me to the start line in adequate shape. I found Neil Scholes as a coach. Right from the outset I knew it was the right decision. He put together bespoke training plans that targeted my weaknesses and built gradually in a manageable way to increase my fitness and endurance in each of the 3 disciplines. His first-hand experience of competing in ironman triathlons and his extensive knowledge of endurance sport instilled confidence in me and I knew as long as I kept ticking off the set sessions that he would get me to the start line with the ability to achieve my goal. He was always available on the phone or via text to answer any questions about training or to bolster me when confidence faltered. As I was thoroughly prepared the race was an amazing experience that I will never forget and, despite the fact that I was a triathlon novice, in terms of race experience, I managed to come 10th overall (5th female overall) in the challenger triathlon category.  I probably wouldn’t have even completed it without Neil’s help and advice.

Since then Neil encouraged me to continue with triathlon and continued to coach me with the goal of making the GB age group team. At the end of my first triathlon season I completed my first Olympic distance triathlon. It was a qualifying event for the European triathlon Championships. I finished within 120% of the winner of my age-group and have since been awarded a roll down place to compete at the European Championships in Kitzbuhel.  In addition I have knocked 12 mins off my half marathon and 5 mins off my 10K PB. Neil’s training plans have enabled me to reach heights I never thought possible and his encouragement to aim high without being unrealistic has meant I have had the motivation to put in the work to achieve these goals.