Army officer and Triathlete, Claire Westerman
Have you always been into fitness?
I have a big brother who is 8 years older than me, so there has always been a natural sense of determination in me to compete in/do the same things he could/did… sometimes when I wasn’t tall or old enough! He taught me as best he could to swim, run, and kayak, sometimes with great patience! Otherwise, I’m self-taught.
How did you get involved with triathlons?
When I started my year at Sandhurst in 2007 on the Army Officer Commissioning Course, my fitness was routinely put to the test but more so was my endurance, durability, persistence, and the sheer will to succeed. The continual daily training required was less specific to triathlon but weighted marches at a pace that made it tough to keep on the pace. This was great for my overall fitness and stamina, which paid off when I converted to longer triathlon specific training or racing.
What's your best athletic achievement so far?
Prior to triathlon, completing the Devizes to Westminster 125 mile Canoe Race when I was younger (17 yrs) and winning the Junior Ladies Doubles category. Some years later I found myself going back once again!
Last year my focus was on Ironman France in Nice, but the best part of the build-up training for me was my ranking 3rd Female overall and 2nd in Age Group at the Outlaw Half, in Nottingham last May. Whilst I certainly peaked too early (and paid the price on the Ironman run a month later) this sense of sheer elation, surprise and satisfaction is a brilliant memory for me, on such a well set up, and supported race. Having friends, family and some Army Tri team there made all the difference that day.
What are your ambitions for 2016 and beyond?
This year I will focus on finding the things that are important to me in the sport and enjoy racing. Last year I raced many races of contradictory distances in a very small window and started to tire when this is combined with a busy job, as many athletes also experience.
I will race up to half ironman/middle distance and the Army and Corps race series in 2016. I am looking forward to racing locally again too. I’ve been glad to venture into some single discipline races at the start of the year and finished 3rd female at The Longleat 10km and completed the off-road “Grizzly” 20 mile run in Devon in March 2016 in the top 20. I am also a huge fan of Parkrun – this is great to mix up or refresh training, and is a more sociable take on a morning run!
Who are your sporting & non-sporting role models and why?
Christie Wellington gets my vote – I was lucky enough to know a relative of hers through work and he asked her to write me a surprise note in 2008. It has been framed ever since in my bathroom — “Anything is possible, reach for the stars, with smiles”. That mantra works for me!
Can you describe the feeling of completing the Ironman?
The day I completed my first Ironman in Tenby, Wales was amazing. I hadn’t trained properly, in terms of heeding all coaching advice. I trained listening to my body (and dangerously, my head!) but was aware I was at risk of not completing the bike course especially. I crashed on a downwards bend at 110km and I thought the race was over. It was raining and I was bleeding from the encounter with the road but when I realised only the chain had come off I knew I could finish. The atmosphere in the town was electric and so completing the race 5th in my Age Group was sheer elation and relief!
What are your top three sport nutrition tips?
- Cut out raisins a few days before racing!! They play havoc with my stomach!
- Try to learn and practice running with some type of nutrition inside even if you struggle when training and racing in longer distance. Eventually, I found I need to have something inside to stand a chance of a decent run or swim.
- Peanut butter and/or jam on a spoon without a reason is definitely allowed!
What are your top three training tips?
- Worry less about statistics, in that you should not spend so much time calculating numbers you miss half your training time!
- Train in the kit you plan to race in – do not try a new fad or thing because you saw someone who looked good do it/wearing it in racking or registration.
- Have someone who knows you backwards involved in, and aware of your training – do not ignore their observations or advice however big or small your goal is.
How important to you is it that Beet It is natural?
Beet It reassures me something good is going in when many bars and juices are full of surprising amount of useless sugar, and I am likely to snack on enough cereal and nutty bars in the day as it is!
Which product do you use the most and why?
I like the bars on long bike rides – they are sweet but I would still rather choose that than a plain flapjack from a newsagent that is coated in pretend yoghurt! Overall the 7 day bottle gets my vote, either to save the day on some NutriBullet concoctions or just on its own.