Lucy Charles is a professional triathlete, entering 2018 after an enormously successful season in 2017 seeing her take several podium positions including winning both Ironman Lanzarote and Challenge Samorin and coming second at Ironman Frankfurt and Ironman World Championships in Kona. Having met Lucy before I knew first hand how down to earth and friendly she is (in fact it is rare not to see her smiling) and so jumped at the chance to interview her for Healthy Living London.
First of all congratulations on an absolutely epic 2nd season racing as a professional athlete. In our house, we were hooked watching the Red Bull live coverage of Ironman World Championship, Kona 2017, which is seen as the pinnacle for long-distance triathletes. Did you ever think your first year as a pro would end with the results you achieved?
Not at all. I started January 2017 with a half Ironman in Dubai where I only just finished in the top 10. So I never thought it would be possible. I definitely put the hard work in, which is why I achieved the results that I did.
I understand you only learned to ride a bike in 2014? I was shocked to read that and I am sure many others will be too, especially as I have personally seen you ride your bike in Lanzarote last year at La Santa. What would be your top three tips for someone wanting to improve on the bike?
The main thing here is be consistent with the bike. Try and ride as much as possible, whether that is getting out and riding in a group to build confidence or putting the work in indoors.
I for one am terrible with my nutrition on the bike and never eat or drink enough. What is your nutrition plan on the bike and over the course of an ironman bike leg what would you consume?
Normally, I have an alarm every 15 minutes to remind me to eat and drink. It’s amazing how much time passes so I need it to remind me. My go-to snacks are Snickers bars. With hydration I will have a mix of caffeine (Red Bull) towards the end of the leg, water and electrolytes to hydrate and stop cramp.
What is your best race and medal to date? The one you are most proud of.
Ironman Lanzarote was my first pro win. I didn’t expect to win, I got a record which was a massive confidence boost and this set me on a roll for the rest of the season.
What race are you looking forward to this year and why?
Definitely the first race of the year as I will get to see how my training has got on over the winter. The race will be Gloria Challenge Mogán Gran Canaria. I did it last year and i know the course. I’m really looking forward to it.
Who would you see as your main competition?
Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf. After Kona, she’s the one to beat this year!
What was the main difference going to Kona 2017 as a Pro athlete than in 2015 as a AG athlete?
The amount of attention I got in 2017. No one really knew who I was in 2015. I’m expecting it to be bigger this year so I just need to make sure I will be prepared so it won’t affect me.
With the endurance events that you do, there must be times where you are tired and your body is screaming to stop. I know Paula Radcliffe once said she counts to 300 over and over as she ran a marathon. What is the key to developing your mental strength?
Visualization. I often recall hard sessions and this helps me as I realise that if I got through that session I can get through this. Its hard but you have to remember why you are doing it.
You are coached by your partner, Reece, who will also be racing as a pro athlete this year. How is it being trained by your partner? I was trained by my husband, Brett, on the bike as he is a cycling coach and sometimes I want to throw my bike at him!
I can relate!! I think on the whole it works really well for us, we push each other in the right way. If one of us is tired we can pull the other one through. We are really good at motivating each other to get through the session.
If not swim, bike, or run what would be your sport of choice?
Something extreme. I’ve always loved going to Cornwall to surf, although I’m pretty useless. I’d love to give that a try.
One of my passions is obstacle running so I have to ask, given that you are sponsored by Red Bull and also from a swimming background, have you ever been tempted to take part in Neptune Steps (swim/climb race through 900 metres of cold water and 11 different obstacles over 11 canal locks)?
Yes definitely, it’s on my bucket list, hopefully, I will get there when my training schedule permits. It’s coming up this March, but I’m booked into a warm weather camp. Fingers crossed I will be there next year. My swim is my strongest discipline so I think it would be a good challenge for me
You have to be in top shape all the time but what is your ideal cheat meal?
Definitely going out for a curry with my friends. I always go for a Chicken Tikka Masala.
We share the same dream car of a VW campervan! Splitty or Westy?
Definitely a splitty – 100% my dream car!