Catherine Faux was named Triathlete of the Year 2013 and is the fastest triathlete in her age group in the world. Described as ‘the most aspiring female talent in long distance triathlon’, Catherine is the face of Will of Iron – let her be your inspiration to take part…
Mansfield Sprint was my first triathlon (not even an eighth of an Ironman distance!), though I’d done some running and swimming at school. The earliest races I ever remember are sports days at primary school; I won the skipping race since I seemed to have the coordination to just charge and swing the rope all at once. Though now I’m pretty sure the 6 year-old me would beat 26 year-old me!
When and why did you make the decision to move in to triathlons?
I knew of a race at Rutland Water which was near my home town and I always thought it looked pretty cool so, when I won an essay competition at university (which gave me enough to buy a cheap bike) that became my aim.
What is your favourite discipline?
It depends where I am, and when you ask me! At the moment (crazy-weather February) it’s running, because cycling is not pleasant in bad weather and much of it has to be done on an indoor bike at this time of year. I love running in the summer too, but the cycling gets much better and you can go on beautiful evening rides that end at a good pub out in the Peak District.
In Hawaii (where the Ironman World Championships are held) it’s so hot that cycling and running are just a big sweat-fest, so being in the water becomes the best. Plus the marine life is incredible to watch whilst you swim above it – and there’s a floating coffee boat in the ocean days before the race. The cycle and run courses used for the race are just roads through lots of sparse lava rock so those elements are comparatively less fun, however during the race itself, the swim is least enjoyable and the last few miles of the run are incredible!
What do you like about triathlons, as opposed to other endurance sports?
Triathlon requires both brains and brawn, and if you are smart you can potentially beat quicker, fitter but less well-prepared competitors. I love the disciplines, I love the people you meet and the sights you see that you’d certainly miss otherwise, even around my local area. I love the buzz of a good training session and seeing how good the human body is. It’s really quite impressive what it can do. I love triathlon because you don’t have to be the very best at any one part of it – it favours all-rounders.
How often to do you train?
Usually twice a day – with a rest day once a week.
What has been your career highlight so far?
It has to be the 2013 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii in October. I came 10th overall and broke the amateur record by 17 minutes. No one was really expecting that, least of all me!
What has been your biggest challenge?
Passing my last set of medical exams. When I’m spending so much time training it doesn’t leave any time or energy for studying, and I tend to be very focussed on one thing at once. Needless to say having been focussed on Kona this year I had a whole lot of cramming to do!
What’s your next big goal?
Passing the next set of exams! But in terms of triathlon I’ll be taking some time out as I complete my first couple of years as a doctor, so I want to make this season a memorable one.
What are your tips for any would be triathletes wanting to get started? How should they approach the training?
Get something in the calendar – it’s motivating and exciting to have an event to look forward to – whether it’s a challenge like Will of Iron, or a race, or just a personal goal. Make plans for training – it’s good to have purpose and focus, and to keep a record so you can see how far you’ve come. But don’t be afraid to miss or swap sessions if your body needs a break, if other commitments make it impossible, or the weather forecast was wrong and it seems criminal to miss a beautiful day outside if you had planned a swim.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love training, so that is something that I’m happy to spend a lot of my ‘free time’ on. I spend a lot of the remainder cooking and baking, and drinking inadvisable amounts of coffee, church, hanging out with friends… the usual.