Tales of a twin mum triathlete in training – Part 1, Julie Knowler

24th July 2021 I was a spectator at Outlaw Nottingham full distance triathlon, my husband Rich was taking part in his first ever full distance event. I’ve been a cheerleader at many of my husband’s triathlons, some of them with our children too, but this time we decided not to bring the kids, it would be a long day and they’d get bored (or so we thought).

I couldn’t have been more wrong, it was the most family friendly triathlon I’ve been to and one of the best spectator experiences by far. From entertainment, ice cream vans and a great event village. But mostly, full of inspirational women pushing themselves and achieving great things. I was in total awe of everyone who took part that day.

I’m not a complete newbie, I’ve done a few sprint and Olympic distance triathlons before, but it was this event that inspired me to apply for the Tri Harder ambassador role and take on my first middle distance triathlon. Which is mad when I think back to completing my first sprint distance, I said never again!  

This is where Tri Hader triathlon club and Coach Perry Agass enter the room! And so in September, my middle distance triathlon journey began. Week one, I suffered total exhaustion and shin splints which made me scared of the road ahead! Would I be plagued with injury and would I be able to increase my base fitness enough to cope with the demands of the training plan? Perry was great and gave me the right advice at the right time – a typical Perry style combo of in your face realism and encouragement! He adapted my training plan as needed when injuries and niggles threatened. 

At the end of week one I had a weekend away planned with friends and Perry couldn’t believe that I had a bender planned in my first week! Setting the expectation a little..?! Not one to disappoint I had a fair amount of wine. Did I regret it during my next training session? Absolutely. Will I do it again? Maybe! I’d like to think I’ve learnt my lesson on that one, but at the end of the day I’m a 40 year old mum of twins trying to get the tri-life/work life/family life balance just right! 

Fast-forward to week 8 and I had entered myself into my usual Billericay Striders 10k run. I told Perry that I’d use this as part of my weekly training. I’d done plenty of 10k races before, I’d be fine right? Wrong. What I didn’t realise, is that the accumulation style of my training, meant that there was no such thing as my usual run, my body was dealing with training through fatigue and getting used to the increment in intensity and distance. I pushed it too much which resulted in a grade 1 calf muscle tear. I was gutted. Again Perry adapted my training plan, more swimming, careful bike sessions to keep the bloody flowing and aid repair and recovery. That was 4 weeks ago and I’m now starting to jog and run again which is a great feeling.

Tri Harder have been a great support, from meet ups, zooms, whatsapp groups with their pro athletes and bike tips, I have learnt a lot. And it’s incredibly comforting to have such a powerful group of women behind me too.What I’m slowly learning is that I need to look after myself a bit better! Less wine, more water, more stretching, icing, massage and sleep. But what I’m also realising is that my body is capable of so much more than I realised. And with consistency and hard work, I’m already seeing the rewards. I’m excited to see what the next few months bring. My hopes are to stick with the training plan, avoid further injury and prepare body and mind for Outlaw Holkham half. I hope to be the woman inspiring other women on that day.