Run, Bike, Swim (and the rest)

When you work in a House full of inspirational people, it is maybe not surprising to come across someone like Clare Taylor who works at Women in Sport. As well as being a mum to a small human, Clare manages to find the time to train for a sport that requires commitment to three different disciplines. Turns out she is pretty good at it too. Welcome to the world of triathlon.

Hello Clare, tell us about what you do here at House of Sport with Women in Sport.

Clare with her son at the end of the London Triathlon.
Clare and her son at the end of the London Triathlon

My job role within Women in Sport is Insight Officer which I do three days a week. I’ve been with Women in Sport almost three and a half years but spent 13 months on maternity leave from May 2018.

And what did you do before this?

I’ve always worked in the charity sector but prior to Women in Sport I had worked around criminal justice conducting research in prisons and using it to try and shape government policy. I felt like I’d done my time after ten years in this sector and really wanted a change!

Tell us about your fitness journey; have you always been quite sporty?

I played netball at school and also swam from a young age but like many girls who feature in our Women in Sport research, I dropped out when I left school and only picked fitness back up again in my early 20’s.

How did you get started with running – we’ve heard you have run a few marathons…

I started running with my partner when we first got together. I built up fitness gradually, initially 5 km seemed like a huge challenge but I very quickly caught the bug. It wasn’t long before I’d signed up to the Royal Parks Half marathon and then the Berlin marathon the following year. It was such a buzz, once the feeling sick had worn off afterwards and I was very quickly signing up for my next one – Paris six months later! I love running but now I have a two year old, fitting in all the training is a little bit more challenging.

The London Triathlon
Clare coming out of the swim at the London Triathlon

And you are also a qualified fitness instructor?!

I’ve done freelance group exercise teaching for the last four years. I teach spin, body pump, HIIT and am trained in post-natal fitness. It started out from me going to the gym and loving spin classes. At some point I thought, I could do that! My confidence has grown so much from doing it. I love inspiring people to get fitter and stronger and promoting activities that are safe and effective. I teach at a number of gyms in London; Nuffield and Virgin Active mostly but would love to start some of my own classes locally with post-natal mums. I’m just trying to find some time to fit it in!

What inspired you to get into triathlons?

Triathlon was something I’ve been thinking about for a while but didn’t have the confidence to go for it because my front crawl wasn’t up to scratch. After one length I had to stop because I was so out of breath. I wanted a new challenge, something to focus on for myself outside of my teaching and which would push me out of my comfort zone. Triathlon certainly has done that! It’s exciting and brings out my competitive side big time!

My friend told me about an opportunity through Her Spirit. It’s an app based personalised coaching initiative which aims to bring together like minded women to support and inspire each other. They were offering 30 places for women to take part in their first ever triathlon together including access to an eight week programme, coached open water swims, free wet-suit hire for the duration of the programme and free entry into the London Triathlon. We would support each other on the app, sharing successes and challenges which was hugely motivating as well as sharing videos, photos and funny stories. I’ve made some new friends from this, hopefully women who I will be entering triathlons with for years to come! I’ve also signed up to be an ambassador for Her Spirit to try and encourage other women to become part of the community taking part in events and doing things they might not have thought possible.

Clare completed the London Triathlon this year, her first, coming first in her wave and first in her age group!

London Triathlon
Getting out of a wet-suit is a skill

What did your training involve?

My triathlon journey began in Club La Santa in January 2019. I’d been on holiday there a couple of years earlier whilst pregnant when they were running a women’s triathlon training camp. I needed a holiday last year and my husband had no annual leave left so encouraged me to go on my own. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try this. It was great! I hired a bike whilst there (I’d never been on a proper race bike before this) and for five days we had swim, run and bike sessions spread out throughout the day. It was hard – I came off my bike twice on the first ride and they quickly saw I needed coaching around my swimming but by the end of the week my swimming had improved so much I decided to sign up for an eight week swimming course with Swim for Tri when back in London. The course helped so much to improve my stroke and at the end of it I felt like I could actually swim without feeling like I was going to pass out. I now try and get to the pool at least twice a week, depending on how busy my week is.

Do you have a favourite tri discipline?

I like all the disciplines but the one that is the most exciting to me right now is swimming. I’ve now bought a wet-suit and have been enjoying open water swimming. Although I don’t think I’m going to be a winter open water swimmer just yet!

What advice and tips do you have for triathlon newbies and those looking to get into triathlon?

The open

You don’t have to be brilliant to start out, I certainly wasn’t! Look at what you need to work on and set yourself some realistic goals. I am a huge believer in seeking out support whether that is through social media groups or other things. Super sprint is the shortest distance and you can often find triathlons which have the swim in the pool rather than open water which can seem less intimidating. And if you can’t swim front crawl that doesn’t matter, lots of people swim breaststroke and that is ok!

Why do you love it?

I like the adrenaline buzz I get from sport and exercise and competing and the opportunity to get better over time. I also like the variety – I found when I was training for marathons, I could get a bit bored and injured. At least I can mix it up with triathlon. I find that people who do triathlon are generally quite ‘up for it’ people, I like being part of what feels like a bit of a sub-culture.

What are your next goals and dream races on the horizon?

I’m hoping to go back to Club La Santa in January 2020. Next year I’m hoping to do a couple of Olympic Distance triathlons and to continue with my open water swimming. I may also join a triathlon club if I have any time to do this!

How do you juggle work, training and being a mum? Oh, and being a fitness instructor??

With great difficulty! Swim sessions after teaching a class, cycling to work and running with my two year old in his running buggy. I have to be creative about how I train and it’s never going to be perfect. A typical training week sees me teaching two body pump classes, three spin classes and one HIIT per week. Sometimes I will cover the odd class when instructors need it. I cycle to work when it’s not raining and my legs aren’t too tired and if I can get to the pool twice a week that is great.

So, when you are not running, biking or swimming what do you like to do to switch off and relax?

I love yoga but don’t get much chance to do that these days. Chilling out with a good book and going hiking in beautiful places, getting out in the fresh air is always good.

And what is your favourite post-race/training food of choice?

Salmon, eggs and avocado.

Clare Taylor, You Rock!

If you are interested in signing up to the Her Spirit app, contact Clare here for a special discount. The Her Spirit app also offer a 14 day trial for anyone to get involved, check out the website here.

Fancy joining a House full of amazing people? Take a look at how you can get involved here.

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