Val is an Iron Woman | Mytime Active

It’s a really friendly and encouraging sport

Val is an Iron Woman

21 February 2019

In the runup to International Women's Day 2019, we talked to Dr Val Lowman OBE, one of Mytime Active's board of trustees, about her experiences as a triathlete and Ironman competitor.

What inspired you to take part in triathlon? Have you always been active?

I first heard of triathlon in my 40s. At 50 I watched Marg [Mytime Active's Chief Executive and a keen triathlete], who had entered the London Triathlon for charity. Up until that point I wasn’t particularly active; like many of us, my energy went on bringing up my family and earning a living. From the very start I knew I wanted to ‘do a triathlon before I died’ but after watching Marg I had to get on with it, or I’d risk ‘dying while I was doing it’! It took me about 11 years until I did my first race, but once I’d done one there was no looking back. It was life-changing.

What does your training regime look like?

During Ironman training you train every single day with two sessions of each discipline, each week. Each session focuses on one area: running, swimming or cycling. Training for running and cycling is about distance and getting your body used to being in the saddle or on your feet, so involve a lot of time practising. Swimming, on the other hand, is very technical. Recently I have made a conscious shift from training for Ironman to protecting my body. Now I am careful to follow each training day with a day of recovery and stretching. I’m working hard to ensure that recovery is a big part of my routine as my goal is to continue competing until I’m 80...and beyond.

What are your favourite things about triathlon?

The mix of disciplines gives you a more balanced training schedule which is better for your body. It also means that if you feel a niggle in one discipline, you can train another. It’s a really friendly and encouraging sport. In races everyone starts at different times, so you don’t know your own or others' position. This means that people are much more encouraging to each other. Everyone also has their own strengths and weaknesses and therefore it’s less easy to compare.

What would you say to someone looking to start their own triathlon journey?

Don’t wait as long as I did! Do it now. There are lots of opportunities for beginners. Check out - I promise you won’t regret it.

How do you get into the right mindset on race day?

I still need to learn how to do this! The wait before the start of a race is the worst bit and I still waste a lot of energy worrying about things that probably won’t happen. Once I get going I love it, and of course crossing the finish line is always euphoric.