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Annie Barsoum: Vox Performance Project participant

So when deciding on a topic for my blog, I decided to focus on one of the most important contributing factors to my triathlon journey.

When I first started training in 2019 I was very much by myself on my journey. Of course, I had support from family and friends (and I definitely would not have achieved what I have without the daily check ins and pep talks from them), but the power of the team is even bigger!

“I’m going to do an Ironman!”

I quickly realised I was out of my depth in terms of the lack specific training knowledge I had for endurance training and due to wanting to do it properly and getting the most out of the experience, I decided to look into getting a coach. This I found invaluable and quickly my coach, Andy Hamilton, began teaching me about how to understand data, how to use Zwift and the importance of nutrition, to just name a few things.

I would not be sitting here having completed Outlaw 2021 without his consistent support. I often read on social media conversations regarding whether or not endurance triathletes should get a coach or not, and I think it is largely down to experience and your personal psychology but not only did working with Andy give me knowledge and support from him but also he has created an athlete WhatsApp group and connected us to the wider network of Total Tri Training which allowed us to develop friendships with other members of the squad. This was invaluable. I had no triathlon friends and felt very isolated training 7 days a week by myself and even though much of our training is done alone we used Discord as a platform to speak and share tips and tricks or even just to gain motivation and support. Especially through the winter when Saturdays invariably consisted of 3-hour turbos it was great to have a specific time to turn up and new friends to speak to – to pass the time.

As a novice triathlete who had barely been on a bike, swam or run in the past 10 years my body was in shock when I first started, and I can honestly say it took 6 months for my body to feel like it was adapting. I was physically and mentally tired all the time and regularly questioned my motivation.

This is where the power of the team really shone through. Not only was Andy there to support me whenever I needed some objective feedback when I felt I wasn’t progressing but I also looked to my team and my wider friends. Just people “checking in” to ask how you were or to see how training was going meant so much and at times when the goal seemed far too far away helped me to reset and go again.

Through my triathlon squad I also met a very successful Sport Psychologist and after talking with her by chance we ended up working together and she gave me practical strategies to use to address my confidence and self-esteem issues. At times I can be very self-destructive due to my lack of self-belief and this results in underperformance especially during testing or big races but also during training. Understanding that it is normal for your mind to have these thoughts is very empowering and a big step in working to overcome their negative influences.

This is just a few of the people and groups who have supported me in my journey to date and undoubtedly, I would not still be training in endurance triathlon without all of these people’s expertise, support and belief.

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