European Preparations


I started this year’s race season with trepidation. I had four races in four weeks, with only a one week gap before competing in the European championships in Spain. Not ideal, to say the least!

So, when I qualified for this year’s Worlds in Beijing and next year’s Europeans in Israel in the first qualifiers respectively, I was pretty pleased to say the least. This meant that I did not have to race all races and could, instead prepare properly for my A race. A week’s recovery paced training followed by a week of training including short race paced intervals in all three disciplines will take me into the European Sprint Championships in Pontevedra, Spain, next weekend.

Usually, I use the GB team travel company, and stay in the team hotel. What this usually means for me is I get the atmosphere of being with all the team members, right in the thick of it. I love that, but what it also means, however, is that I am immersed in amongst hundreds of people all preparing for a very important race, and being one that prefers to train solo, it can also cause me stress. 

Travelling and accommodation

This year I have chosen to stay in a different hotel, still nearby, and get a hire car. I will never be far away from the action, but with the ability to separate myself. I found when I raced the Beaver and my husband was away for the weekend, that if I am alone before a race, I stay much calmer, chilled and more focussed.

Pre race expectations for a GB athlete

PARADE OF NATIONS, Euro champs, Athlone, 2010

The race is on Saturday, and I travel on Thursday. People often ask me why so early before a race? Well, as a GB triathlete, there are certain expectations of you. The opening ceremony is on Thursday evening. You are also given a couple of specific time slots (assigned for each country’s athletes specifically) in which you MUST register and collect your race pack. My race is on Saturday, so on Friday afternoon I will have to go and rack my bike at a certain time, no negotiation. Then there are also the team meetings with the team manager, so the days running up to a race can be pretty busy. I usually take myself off in between and do a bit of sight seeing. It’s a shame to get to all these lovely parts of the world without actually seeing them other than during a swim/bike/run!

Home comforts

My pre race breakfast, religiously, is Oats so simple porridge. I usually take that with me so I can be sure I will get some wherever I go. As well as that, I will take all my race drinks, gels and nutrition with me in single pouch format (the airlines get a bit twitchy about large quantities of powder!) I like to be self sustained, and not have to rely on finding things at my destination. Due to airline restrictions I am not allowed to carry gas (for quick tyre inflation) so I usually take a mini pump and get gas when I arrive, if I feel the need. Too often I have bought it then not used it and had to leave it there, which is a waste! I will probably take some green tea bags too, my new favourite drink!

Racing Abroad

Triathlon is triathlon. It’s much the same wherever you go. At ETU and ITU level the preparations, facilities and courses are all of a very consistently high standard. The changing factor is the crowd and the weather. That said, there is an immense sense of pride every time I pull that GB suit on. It is a feeling I really can’t describe, and you need to have done it to fully appreciate what I mean. The first GB representation for me was at the World championships in Australia in 2009. I was terrified, excited, elated all at once. I was in pieces at the start line, so nervous of racing at that level for the first time I was almost in tears. I am able to control that better now, but each time I stand at a start line with the GB trisuit on, I think of all the people that I had to beat to be standing there, how I am part of a team representing my country. I feel very proudly patriotic each time I am able to say that. I could, if I wanted to, wear that suit at every race I do. It’s special though. I choose to only wear it at European and World championships. That means that the twice a year that I pull it or the GB tracksuit on makes it all the more special for me.

I will never get bored of the incredible feeling I get racing abroad, representing my country. The result almost doesn’t matter, because for me it was all about the journey to earn the spot and get to the start line. Everything else is a bonus.

I race for Great Britain, I am incredibly proud to be able to say that, and even more proud to say that I have met people that are now also on the team because they read my story and I helped them to believe that they too could do it if they tried.

I will go to Spain next week and do my country proud. Wish me luck J

Melanie Ryding

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