Sponsored Rider: Michelle Cooper
How did you get into triathlon?
I was training for the New York Marathon and during taper had all the usual twitches of wanting to do more than I should. My husband suggested I do a triathlon with him that weekend but I didn’t own a bike and hadn’t been in a pool since high school to do anything more than float around. By Thursday I had a road bike, on Friday I had fallen off that road bike and busted my knee, ankle and palms and on Sunday I jumped into the water at Raby Bay for a sprint distance race. It was the single hardest thing I had done and I hated every second of it. But, having not trained at all I got what I deserved and I decided that I couldn’t judge the sport based on my lack of preparation. So I set about training when I returned from New York and committed that I wouldn’t leave the sport until I had done the right thing by it. I’m still here today and it’s now a huge part of my life.
Hardest thing about racing?
These days it is removing my coaches hat and focusing on my own race. I am easily distracted by someone in need and often sacrifice my own goals to support them. I’d say it is worth it. However initially it was overcoming the fear of the things I hadn’t yet mastered. I had to learn to swim in open water which terrified me, I had to learn to use clip in pedals and all the other things that go into triathlon but I studied diligently and keep learning something new every day that makes racing more and more enjoyable. During any given race there are things within your control and I concentrate on those. The things outside my control like the crashes I have had, the mechanicals that change race plans, overwhelming heat and more are the times when your preparation, self-belief and mental toughness really come into play.
A late entrant to triathlon, I have committed to being the best I can be whilst forging a strong professional career, volunteering in the community on boards and raising an outstanding human being – a daughter! I balance taking from the sport (as an athlete) with giving back (as a coach and board director) to ensure I use all my skills and experience to leave the sport better than I found it, because it has made me better than when I started.
What does a typical training week look like?
I’ve just finished world championships so am back into Ironman training with a big jump in volume again. I’ve been prone to injuries so have taken a year to rebuild my running and therefor keep the volume pretty light these days. In a perfect week I swim 10km, ride 200km on the road and spend 3-5 hours on the turbo trainer, run 20-40km and spend 5-6 hours on core, strength and balance work. Most weeks don’t work out like that thanks to work commitments and more than 15 hours a week coaching other athletes but I juggle it the best I can.
Where does coaching fit into your triathlon aspirations?
Coaching is an incredibly hard but rewarding element of my triathlon journey. I might not be the best athlete out there but I am a motivated student of the sport. I enjoy pushing my knowledge though the mentors I am lucky enough to have and the networks I have developed. As an accredited Triathlon Australia development coach, I enjoy helping people find new strength in themselves that they didn’t dream was there. I founded SBR Triathlon with my husband and head coach David in 2013 and whist we maintain a high athlete to coach ratio, our growth has been fabulous. We’ve made wonderful friends and feel honoured to be part of their journey.
I don’t have any podiums to brag about but I am very proud of many of my achievements including these:
2016 World Championships: