Almost 20 Questions…

After a great race in Ireland at the European Cup last weekend (placing 11th) I thought I’d ask sponsored triathlete, Fergus Roberts (right), a few questions about triathlon, racing and life as an athlete.

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1. How did you get into triathlon?
I first started triathlon when I was 9 years old following in my brother and sisters footsteps, after competing in triathlon for two years I decided to concentrate fully on running as this was my strongest discipline and brought me lots of success. I then returned to triathlon after struggling with injury with solely focusing on running in 2010 and haven’t looked back since!

2. Mid way through the season, how have things gone so far?
As far as results are concerned the 2013 season hasn’t been great, however I know that I am in good shape and believe that future races this season will improve.

3. What’s your strongest discipline?
All three disciplines are on a similar level, although I would probably say that my run is the best when I am in top shape.

4. Do you have any pre/post race superstitions?
Not really, but I always make sure I eat bang on 3hours before a race and have a certain routine of stretches that must be done!

5. Any advice for aspiring athletes starting out in their first season of multi-sport racing?
From a training point of view, to make competing in triathlon slightly easier I would suggest that you work very hard on your swim, I have learnt that if you can come out of the swim in the front pack you can usually do well in the race. Also a race can’t be won in transition but it can definitely be lost so make sure you are as fast as possible through transition which takes a lot of practise but it is an easier way to gain time than doing lots of training. The most important advice is to make sure that you enjoy the sport, as you spend a lot of time feeling tired or in a bad state and you need the enjoyment to get you through!

6. So far this season you’ve made several trips to Europe, what’s the best/worst thing about travelling?
The best thing about racing abroad is experiencing new courses and meeting different people. I hate all the waiting around that is involved in travelling, I always feel sluggish on arrival for the rest of the day (It is worth it though!)

7. What are your aims for the future?
My aim is to keep on improving over the next few years and hopefully that will take me to racing on the world circuit and competing at the highest level, I would love to represent GB at a major competition!

8. What’s the best advice you’ve had regarding your sport/racing?
“listen too you’re body, only you know how you are feeling” Shaun Purkiss

9. Who are your sporting/non sporting heroes?
I don’t really have any sporting hero’s although Lance Armstrong inspired me in early life. My main hero is my mum, she is always helping me to be the best I can be and has supported me tirelessly throughout my life. She pushed me as a youngster and planted my desire to compete at a high level. I have a very good relationship with my mum and dad and believe that this is a key factor to me getting through difficult patches throughout my life. I have only just started to appreciate how much my parents have sacrificed, with limited resources and knowledge, in order to support me and help me achieve my dreams.

10. You come from a sporting family how did that influence you growing up?
This has helped me massively. Me, my brother and sister all compete in sport at a high level so there must be a reason for us all still being involved. My family provide encouragement and inspiration for me to keep improving for example not many people my age can still go out for a fast ride on the bike with my dad aged 52, I always try to beat him up the hills but he is never far behind and when we get back for lunch I ask him what he’s doing in the afternoon and he says “going for another ride”.
My parents have brought us up in the outdoors, instead of computer games and toys it was walking in the Lake District or cycling in Scotland. An example of our childhood is when Doug was eight and Jessie was ten we cycled for two weeks in the French Alps averaging 50miles a day climbing passes that many fully grown adults wouldn’t even contemplate, this sort of holiday is probably where we all started building our base fitness for the future (nowadays I don’t know any parent that would do this).

11. What kind of diet do you have to follow?
I don’t follow a strict diet, but generally speaking I eat very healthily although I do have a weakness for chocolate like the rest of my family. I eat plenty of fruit to boost my immune system because triathlon is highly demanding and you are always on the edge of illness due to the vast amount of training and intensity that is involved. My mum always makes lovely meals that are very nutritious, one of my favourites is prawn and salmon pearl barley risotto although you can’t beat a nice pizza or barbeque.

12. How does what you eat affect your performance?
I have never really analysed which foods improve or decrease my performance, but I try to avoid any red meat before a race as it is slow to digest and can often give me a stitch or make me feel lethargic.

13. What support did you get at school and do you feel this has helped you?
Throughout school I have always been encouraged and recognized for my sport which I have appreciated. At secondary school (Allertonshire) was where I was most pushed by Mr Byrne my PE teacher. He was always so enthusiastic when taking us to cross country events and his team talks before the races were always worth a listen. Other than that most of the support I have received has been from clubs, teams, friends and family such as Richmond and Zetland harriers, the Hambleton road club, Northallerton ASC and Richmond dales ASC. I race for redvenom.co.uk which is a compression clothing company and have given me endless support such as taking me to races and helping me to find sponsorship which I am very grateful.

14. What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
It is hard to think which the best piece of advice is because I have been given so much. But the piece of advice I am told most is to “enjoy what I am doing while I’m young and fit and make the most of every opportunity I am given because I might not get them again!”

15. What advice would you give to a young person considering competing professionally?
Don’t be afraid of your competitors let them be afraid of you.

16. What is the biggest challenge you face as an athlete?
Injury and illness are the biggest challenges. When you are an athlete you are bound to experience an injury, you feel awful and being unable to do what you love is quite depressing and hard to take but I would happily have a few injuries if it helped me to get one perfect race and result!

17. How important is it to have support from Ed Pratt Sports Therapy?
The support I receive from Ed is so important for me competing in triathlon, due to the physical nature of the sport. Ed has a very good knowledge of the sport and is always willing to go the extra mile when there is a certain aspect of my performance that needs improving. If there is something that he isn’t quite sure about, he spends a lot of time researching and comes back to the next session an expert in the topic. The therapy is usually preventative measures to avoid injury but when I do get an injury he gives me great rehab work and helps me regain my confidence. I put my full faith in Ed and always look forward to treatment as I know how good you feel after and how much harder you can push yourself. Ed isn’t just about the sports therapy, he is a good friend and I always walk out of the room feeling more confident about performing. Recently I have just completed my A-levels and he even helped me revise my PE without knowing by going through some biomechanics.

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